Hubert Hurkacz | Play in the shadows

It’s hard to be dwarfed by anyone when you’re 6’5″ (1.98m). But despite his generous size and his eighth place in the world rankings, Hubert Hurkacz flies like the wind, without anyone noticing. Until he gets up.




The Pole has won seven of the nine finals he has played in since joining the ATP tour full-time. In his case, his efficiency rate in the ultimate match is remarkable. His Masters 1000 titles, in 2021 against Jannik Sinner in Miami and in 2023 against Andrey Rublev in Shanghai, testify to his ability to win important tournaments.

However, even if his rank in the ranking places him among the most formidable players, Hurkacz is still looking for this famous Grand Slam tournament title that can bring him out of this relative anonymity.

It was 8:20 p.m. in Dubai when the 27-year-old picked up the phone to answer The Press. He was on the eve of facing Christopher O’Connell in this 500 caliber tournament.

Hurkacz was calm. His flow was almost in slow motion. It’s very rare to see the big right-hander lose his temper or get carried away in an interview. This character trait, or personality, more discreet and less exuberant compared to his counterparts, reduces his chances of reaching the rank of superstar like Holger Rune or Taylor Fritz, two examples of players with performance similar to that of our speaker.

“It’s not something I focus on,” he said, calmly.

If the little media attention given to him does not bother him, he is more concerned about his place in the rankings. THE top 10 hasn’t been this permeable in ages. Players walk in and out like it’s a Boxing Day electronics store.

Four players installed in the top 10 were not there on this date last year. Same as three players comfortably placed in the top 5 52 weeks ago are now beyond 10e place.

Hurkacz reached a career high with his eighth place finish on January 29. However, the possibility of leaving the group of 10 does not prevent him from sleeping.

I was near the top 10 over the last three years. I hope the fans enjoy it. Several young people are showing up and it’s good for the sport. Just Jannik (Sinner) winning a Grand Slam… He’s such a good person, it’s very refreshing to watch him play.

Hubert Hurkacz

To hear the Pole’s words, he almost wishes his sport would progress better than his own career. This assumption may be preposterous, but probably not far from the truth.

At the time when Eugène Lapierre was the big boss of the National Bank Open, Hurkacz was often one of the first players to arrive in town, but also the most willing. He offered his services for all promotional and communication activities. To sell your sport. To make it accessible. Hearing him praise Sinner in response to a question initially asked about his ranking is therefore not surprising.

The serving ace

Thanks to his range, Hurkacz dominates just about every service-related category. He is first for the efficiency rate (298.0, an index calculated by the ATP from some serving statistics), points won on first ball (79.6%), games won on serve (89 .1%) and the average aces per match (14.9).

PHOTO RULA ROUHANA, REUTERS

Thanks to his range, Hurkacz dominates just about every service-related category.

“If you don’t try to improve, you’re going to stagnate. It can even become a weakness. It’s all in the detail. You have to master the smallest elements. It’s not perfect every day. I would like every match to have all my serves perfect. The idea is to feel comfortable,” he explains of his success with the ball in hand.

The most complicated thing, however, remains to continue to apply himself to a facet of the game that he already masters very well. The quest for balance between perfecting the elements of his game that highlight him and working on his weaknesses is at the center of his concerns. “At this level, we have to work on the elements we are good at, because they are our best weapons. You can also be below average in certain facets of the game, as long as you work to improve them. »

He cites his sometimes passive side and the quality of his service returns as weaker elements of his game.

Something particularly interesting when you look at his matches: how often he finds himself in tiebreaker situations. It’s a habit among big servers. Unbreakable when they have the advantage, but limited when they must receive courtesies.

In 13 matches this season, 16 rounds have been decided at the limit. He won nine. “I think that above all it gives me experience in this type of situation,” he insists. Perhaps I feel more at ease, calmer during these points. But it comes with my style of play and you have to adapt your tactics. »

The same objectives

A few days after the interview, Hurkacz was knocked out of the Dubai tournament by Ugo Humbert in the quarter-finals. It was already the third clash this season between these two players.

The Pole has yet to reach any final in 2024. His most recent was in Basel in October, where he lost to Félix Auger-Aliassime.

By the end of the season, he asks not to be judged only by his results, but rather by the way he manages his matches, because that is how he evaluates himself. Mainly because the result is not the final word.

“If you play well, you give yourself a better chance of winning. There were weeks where I got good results, but my quality of play wasn’t there. We can strive to improve even when we win. The level is so high, the margin is so fine, that if you show the slightest weakness, it’s simply not going to work. (…) Now we want to get closer to the summit and stay there. »

Who is Hubert Hurkacz?

PHOTO AMR ALFIKY, REUTERS

Hubert Hurkacz

  • Born February 11, 1997 in Wrocław, southwest Poland
  • Winner of seven ATP Tour titles
  • Personal peak in the ranking at 8e world position in January 2024
  • Could have had a career in auto racing or basketball
  • Former partner of Félix Auger-Aliassime in doubles


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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